Over the weekend (Saturday January 11, 2014) I had the opportunity to meet with the folks that run the Katy MakerSpace LLC. Harry, Izzy, Aaron were there.
In case you are not aware. There is another meetup group called the Katy MakerSpace LLC. There was a very small amount of confusion by two members of their group about who we were. It was immediately sorted (we are a different group). I also think that there was (is) concern on their part that we are somehow undermining their efforts. I think they feel a bit protective of the MakerSpace name and concept.
At one point Harry commented that, "HackerSpace is just one letter off from sounding like MakerSpace." I responded by saying that I thought the people that would be drawn toward a MakerSpace would probably not come to a HackerSpace and vice versa. I also tried to reassure him that Katy HackerSpace is simply a place holder name.
Both Harry and Izzy commented that the word "Hacker" had a negative connotation to it and they wanted to avoid being associated with it.
My response was the opposite. I said that I would, "pay people to protest the hackers..." Because it would give us the opportunity to engage those opposed to the term and educate them, thereby widening awareness and understanding.
We discussed our views on the maker vs hacker space thing. Harry felt that we should change our name as it is too close to theirs. I pointed out that HackerSpace is a generic name which is part of the American technical lexicon. I reassured them that our intention is to find a more permanent name like most other HackerSpaces e.g. (NoiseBridge, TX/RX, Pumping Station 1, HacDC, Resistor (NYC) etc.
We then discussed some general business strategies. Our respective backgrounds etc..
Overall I think we share a lot of the same beliefs; A desire to see a community space, a love of making and technology etc.
I also think that there are some key differences.
Though they are not for profit, it seems like they want to pursue a traditional business model (pretty standard in MakerSpaces). I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. It just isn't my style.
My preference is based on my experience within the hacker community. Every group (both formal and informal) that I have been a part of has been to run things a little more democratically.
Their vision is for a MakerSpace that contains a space for hackers. Which, they would prefer, not call themselves hackers.
Mine is for a technology focused HackerSpace that adds equipment that is relevant to the group's current interests. I think that such an organization should derive its mission from the members.
In the end I made a $200.00 donation to their cause and advised them
that my intention was to stay the course. I told them that I would talk to the group in a few months to see where we want to go.
The folks over at Katy MakerSpace LLC seem like good people and in the grand scheme of things our differences are very small. I would encourage you to attend one of their open houses and see what they are all about.
In the interim I will continue to pursue the goal of a Katy based HackerSpace and I will continue to put my time, energy and money behind this concept.
Geek it 'till it Mhz!